Farewell to Coffee, Eggs and Politicking in the Early States
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Today's New Hampshire primary means the end to The Washington Post Diners series. We began visiting the Red Arrow Diner in July, hoping to track the political thought process of the diner's staff and customers.
"Voters of all ages come through the Red Arrow at all hours," we reported in July. "On their minds, based on interviews, are some familiar concerns. They are unhappy about the war in Iraq, anxious about health care and immigration -- and skeptical that any of the candidates could really fix any of it."
Red Arrow manager Elaine Boule quickly became a lead character.
"She herself has never voted for a Democrat. But after her husband's youngest brother died in Iraq, and as the mother of five children -- two of them teenagers without health insurance -- Boule said she wants something different. Someone competent."
Boule says she will vote for Hillary Clinton in today's primary, admitting none of the GOP candidates earned her vote.
As Elaine's interest in Clinton evolved in the last six months, she insisted on meeting the candidate in person. She made a direct-to-camera appeal, using a video camera provided by washingtonpost.com. We provided the Red Arrow staff with the camera, hoping they would record any visits by presidential candidates or campaign surrogates. The staff far exceeded expectations, documenting visits by Bill Richardson, Rudy and Judith Giuliani, and Chris Dodd. The Post's Mike Shear captured an emotional exchange between Romney and a Red Arrow waitress. (Joe Biden, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Bill Clinton also stopped by in the past six months, some before our project began.)
Elaine met Clinton in November, when the senator spent 45 minutes at the diner, according to Red Arrow owner Carol Sheehan.
"She was very gracious," Sheehan said. "I was pleasantly surprised. I really felt that when she spoke with you, she was really listening to you."
Sheehan is gratified by all of the attention paid to her diner.
"I get front seats here. It's amazing. I'm able to meet these people and for the most part, converse with them...It's history in the making."
Posted by: JakeD | January 8, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse
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